Fairyhouse Racecourse

Location and History

Fairyhouse Racecourse, situated in County Meath, is one of the country's premier horse racing venues.

With a rich history that dates back to the mid-19th century, Fairyhouse has firmly established itself as an iconic hub for Irish racing. Like many Irish tracks, it’s used for both national hunt and flat racing at different times of the year.

Proof of its importance is the fact that it’s a course that over the years has been graced with the presence of the equivalent of horseracing royalty, with the likes of Desert Orchid, Prince Regent, Persian War, Number Sixvalverde, and Al Boum Photo all racing there.

Most of them took part in (and won) either one of the two most important races to take place there: the WillowWarm Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National.

Though mostly known as a premier racetrack, there’s a lot more to Fairyhouse as a venue than just racing.

The course is often used for musical festivals and other events, and when not hosting racing on a Sunday, it becomes a market selling equipment for horse riding, fresh fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, and other miscellaneous things.

In terms of getting to Fairyhouse, transport to the racecourse is both convenient and varied.

Situated in Ratoath, County Meath, it's just a short drive from Dublin, making it accessible for both locals and tourists coming from the Irish capital.

The primary route by car is via the N3 motorway, after which you need to get onto the R155 regional road.

For those not driving, there are usually special bus services operating on major race days, departing from Dublin and offering direct routes to the racecourse.

Additionally, the proximity of the track to Dublin means that taxis or ride-sharing services are viable options as well.

For international visitors, Dublin Airport is the nearest major airport.

Types of Racing at Fairyhouse and Notable Races

Like many Irish tracks, it hosts both types of racing (flat and jumps), and they take place on very distinct tracks.

The website describes the separate tracks as follows:

“The flat track is wide and galloping and is known to be a fair track that slightly favours those who race prominently. The Jumps course consists of 11 fences and is most famous for staging the Irish Grand National during the three-day Easter meeting. The hurdles course presents eight hurdles and stages the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace. “

The course hosts 20 race meetings a year over the two disciplines, most taking place over Easter.

In addition to the Gold Cup and Irish Grand National, there’s also the Festival Novice Hurdle, the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, and the Drinmore Novice Chase. In total, it hosts six Grade 1 races a year.

While the Irish Grand National was won by Brown Lad on three separate occasions (1975, 1976, and 1978), its most famous winner is probably Desert Orchid, who won it in 1990 as an even-money favourite under Richard Dunwoody. The great Arkle also won it back in 1964.

A year earlier Arkle won the Gold Cup while Al Boum Photo, a two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, was triumphant in the (Irish) Gold Cup in 2018.

Heroes at Fairyhouse

Let’s look at the trainers and jockeys who have taken a particular liking to the Fairyhouse course over the years by winning time and time again or who have made a big impact in the few times that they have raced there.

Top Trainers

  • Only two trainers have managed to get to the magical mark of 50 winners here when it comes to flat racing. GM Lyons, still active, is currently on 58 winners, while Dermot Weld, also still in business, has exactly 50 winners. However, the trainer with the best strike rate here is the great Aiden O’Brien, who has a strike rate of 20%: 44 winners from 210 horses sent out to race.
  • In terms of jump racing trainers, there’s a far clearer winner: Willie Mullins. The legendary trainer has had 342 winners here over the years. Almost 150 more than the next best: Gordon Elliott. Mullins also has the best strike rate at 22%.

Top Jockeys

  • The late Pat Smullen won here as a flat jockey on 56 occasions. While C T Keane, K J Manning, and D P McDonagh have all managed over 40 winners here over the years.
  • When looking at the jumps jockeys that have excelled here over the years, four have reached the superb mark of 100 winners at Fairyhouse. And they’re some of the greatest jumps jockeys the sport has seen: Ruby Walsh (152 winners), Davy Russell (131), Paul Townend (110), and Paul Carberry (exactly 100).


  • Under-16s can watch the racing for free, while there are other concessions for OAPs on most race days.
  • L’Escargot’s 1976 win in the Aintree Grand National as a 13/2 chance over the great Red Rum is one for the history books. Where did he train in preparation for the race? Fairyhouse, of course!
  • The Irish Branch of Pernod Ricard has been sponsoring racing here since 1960 and up to the present day: it’s the longest sponsorship in Irish racing.
  • However, when it comes to currently sponsoring the Irish Grand National, it’s done by a very different sort of tipple: Jameson Whiskey.
  • Bobbyjo won the 1998 Irish Grand National, before going on to win the Aintree Grand National the following year. The Bobbyjo Chase, a Grade 3 National Hunt Steeplechase which takes place here at Fairyhouse in February, is named after him.

More information on racecourses in ireland can be found on our sports blog.